You might think you’ve seen it all in football, but there’s always something lurking around the corner to make you say ‘you’re kidding me’, or words to that effect.
At the same time that Arsenal’s Robin van Persie was attracting all the publicity by being shown a rather silly red card in front of 95,000 fans in Barcelona last week, on the south coast of England an even sillier red card was being shown in front of a slightly smaller crowd _ a grand total of 458 fans to be exact.
It was arguably one of the strangest sending-offs by a referee.
The occasion was a non-league sixth tier match in which Havant and Waterlooville were home to Dorchester. It was an important game with both teams vying for play-off places and the score stood at 1-1 after nearly 70 minutes.
Then a buffoon ran onto the pitch, naked but for a bright green ‘mankini’, white socks and a curly wig, resembling the outfit worn by Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘Borat’ movie character.
Play stopped abruptly and for half a minute the players and officials stared at this fellow running around with a couple of unfit stewards in not very impressive pursuit. It looked kind of stupid as no one was doing anything about it.
Dorchester player-manager Ashley Vickers eventually had seen enough and decided that as the stewards weren’t having much success, he would take matters into his own hands. He proceeded to perform an admirable rugby tackle on the pitch invader and the culprit was escorted from the field of play by the puffing stewards who thanked Vickers for his noble efforts. End of story.
To everyone’s astonishment, as Vickers prepared for the match to restart, the referee strode up and showed him a red card for ‘violent conduct’.
“I’m dumbfounded and speechless,” said Vickers after the match. “It’s beyond belief.” It does indeed.
After the incident, the Dorchester team went to pieces with two more players getting their marching orders and the team losing 3-1 – finishing with eight men.
The referee claims he was simply sticking to the letter of the law which states that any player who attacks anyone on the field gets a red card. He might have been better advised just to have used a little common sense, admittedly a virtue not always associated with referees.
It is no surprise that the referee’s actions have not exactly gone down well with football fans.
“This is the most absurd decision I have ever seen,” was a view on one website. “The ref is a prize plonker,” offered another.
But the events at Havant and Waterlooville were peanuts compared to what was happening in far-away Argentina where a referee broke the world record this week by sending off 36 players in one game.
The match between Claypole and Victoriano Arenas in the Argentine 5th Division was a niggly affair from the start, constantly being interrupted by fights and scuffles.
In the second half, the match degenerated into one giant brawl and referee Damian Rubino had little choice but to show red cards to all 22 players plus both teams’ substitutes and some of the technical staff – a grand total of 36.
When things eventually quietened down the Claypole manager accused the official of overreacting, saying he had been ‘confused’. He claimed ‘Most players were trying to separate people’ although they had a strange way of showing it judging from all the fists flying about.
All this makes the Premiership games we watch each week seem rather tame.
The previous world record for the number of red cards was also in South America held by a 1993 game in Paraguay in which 20 players were dismissed.
In much more sedate England; five players have been sent off in the same match on three different occasions – Chesterfield v Plymouth (1997), Bristol Rovers v Wigan Athletic (1997) and Exeter v Cambridge (2002).
No doubt there will be a number of red cards in the coming weeks, but hopefully none as silly as that dished out to the Dorchester player-manager.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post